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PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2016 10:46 pm 
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Our daughter has returned from her first silver canoe expedition practice, and the temperatures overnight were close to freezing. She has a health condition which requires long term steroids and is very susceptible to physical / mental stress as those who are familiar with adrenal gland issues will know.
My daughter & her class participants had a sleeping bag provided and due to the cold evenings, had also taken their own as discussed with her teacher. It was explained that this would not be permitted on the assessed expedition, but of course this is in late June so would not be necessary.
She has arrived home in a terrible state, having capsized many times in the Thames, with no option to shower, and a flimsy sleeping bag suitable for summer. The assessors removed the additional sleeping bags they had brought, and did not give them the provided bags until 9pm. I have read the risk assessment guidelines for assessors, which clearly state that out of season expeditions should have indoor accommodation available. The season appears to run from End March to October. I am frankly quite furious. I had sent her on her way with the 'character building' message ringing in her ears, only to receive her home on the brink of collapse. Has anyone else had cause for similar complaint with D of E expeditions?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2016 10:55 pm 
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We are only just embarking on bronze and haven't done expeditions yet, but if I were in your shoes I would not be impressed. Surely they have a duty of care to the children on the expedition and especially as it was a practise could have stopped it if conditions were too bad? I hope she is OK.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:37 am 
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Was this run by the school?

I have not been involved with canoe trips specifically but for other expeditions there has never been an issue about the kind of sleeping bag allowed.
Possibly it's something to do with a weight limit but this should have been explained as its possible to get super light very warm sleeping bags.


But I'm also confused about them not being given the sleeping bags until a certain time since they are supposed to be self-sufficient so carrying and responsible for everything they need for the trip.


Whoever is running this will have to be registered with the operating authority.
If it is the school then I would start by contacting them for an explanation and then take it from there.

My experience of D of E is that the rules are overly restrictive if anything so this sounds very odd.

Its a bit late this time! but your DD would have had to submit a route plan, kit list, menu and overnight plan before they started. If you decide to let her continue then I would check this yourself to make sure it meets her health needs.

It is also possible for certain allowances to be made for those with disabilities and a long term health issue would be covered by this. It tends to included minor allowances but is worth checking out.

From what you say this sounds like an ill managed trip so you would be doing others a favour by making sure those running it are following guide guidelines correctly.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 7:44 am 
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All sounds most odd to me too, as the emphasis is usually on self sufficiency and there isn't usually an 'assessor' on practice expeditions to stop them doing things either - just teachers. Never heard of sleeping bags being provided for them nor 'given out' as they usually have them strapped to their own rucksacks etc. Very odd.

How old is your daughter? Did the bronze go smoothly when she was in Y10? I must be confused as I thought your daughter with health issues was much younger than this. The physical side of DofE is meant to be challenging for all - even the bronze can be jolly hard work - my oldest one did it in searing heat and was very tired at the end. Some gave up on that one because of blisters (silly shoes) and generally not being fit enough. As KB says, if your daughter has health issues she and you need to be going through the plans in a detailed way beforehand to ensure she is happy with the arrangements.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:14 am 
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I don't know the answer to your question mm. However, with the adrenal issues you describe, I would be paying extreme attention to what takes place on physically and mentally challenging trips. Even with the best will in the world, adult team leaders may not get it right - although I agree that what has taken place on this trip allowing her to get cold in the evening is very poor and also is not teaching them to be prepared for the potential onset of hypothermia, for example, in themselves or others. There are many ways to get a party member warm and keep them warm of which a sleeping bag is just one.

I would somehow keep a closer eye on the planning and the actual trip next time. I am sure this is possible without detracting from the independent learning experience it provides for your child.

I pulled out of a d of e expedition as a teenager because I was concerned whether another child in the party had a medical condition which could make a certain part of it risky for her. It had not been discussed with us not how to deal with it if the situations I envusaged arose. I thought times had changed but sounds like maybe not!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 10:24 am 
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Hi Amber, yes it is our younger daughter who has the bigger health issues. The daughter referred to here has had a long term condition relating to her adrenal gland for which she has to take daily steroid medication. It is well managed and usually causes little issue, but stress of any form, can have a big impact. She has experienced adrenal crisis before and has to increase her dose when she is taking exams or experiencing conditions outside her norm. She was perfectly well & healthy when she left on Friday, and is anything but today.

With regards to the weekend itself, it was a practice session solely for the canoeing element, so they were not actually having to trek anywhere with their gear. They were told they could therefore be more lenient with the restrictions on what to bring...which of course they all did!
The lady on site was employed by the expedition company, and she was the one confiscating the extra bedding. We had the option to have sleeping bags provided at the centre..which I had opted for, with the intention she also bring her own, for extra bedding as it was forecast to be so cold.
The next practice session will encompass canoeing and trekking, which will of course require her to manage her kit load and carry it etc..but this weekend was purely about the canoeing, which I don't think warranted such pedantic enforcement of bedding! Particularly when it is technically out of season, and rather unseasonally cold.
I would have thought that personal challenges aside, the whole experience is intended to be, at the very least enjoyable, yet my daughter seems traumatised at the prospect of ever going again. Such a shame, we had no issues with the Bronze, but her practice and assessment weekends were all very much in warmer season. And didn't require her to capsize repeatedly into a freezing cold Thames and have nowhere warm to dry. Character building indeed!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 12:28 pm 
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mm23292 wrote:
Hi Amber, yes it is our younger daughter who has the bigger health issues. The daughter referred to here has had a long term condition relating to her adrenal gland for which she has to take daily steroid medication. It is well managed and usually causes little issue, but stress of any form, can have a big impact. She has experienced adrenal crisis before and has to increase her dose when she is taking exams or experiencing conditions outside her norm. She was perfectly well & healthy when she left on Friday, and is anything but today.

With regards to the weekend itself, it was a practice session solely for the canoeing element, so they were not actually having to trek anywhere with their gear. They were told they could therefore be more lenient with the restrictions on what to bring...which of course they all did!
The lady on site was employed by the expedition company, and she was the one confiscating the extra bedding. We had the option to have sleeping bags provided at the centre..which I had opted for, with the intention she also bring her own, for extra bedding as it was forecast to be so cold.
The next practice session will encompass canoeing and trekking, which will of course require her to manage her kit load and carry it etc..but this weekend was purely about the canoeing, which I don't think warranted such pedantic enforcement of bedding! Particularly when it is technically out of season, and rather unseasonally cold.
I would have thought that personal challenges aside, the whole experience is intended to be, at the very least enjoyable, yet my daughter seems traumatised at the prospect of ever going again. Such a shame, we had no issues with the Bronze, but her practice and assessment weekends were all very much in warmer season. And didn't require her to capsize repeatedly into a freezing cold Thames and have nowhere warm to dry. Character building indeed!

It does sound like your dd's additional medical needs were not considered ....were the leaders aware of the issues before hand?..I guess it is a difficult balancing act. It also sounds like the whole needs of the group were disregarded as far as ensuring they were proberly equipped for the cold conditions they were in...I think you are right to be asking questions about this and wanting answers... :?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 12:35 pm 
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I don't know whereabouts on the Thames you are but, on the tidal Thames, Kingston Head (rowing event) was cancelled on Saturday due to red boards being up, i.e. the river being deemed too dangerous for rowing; usually judged by the speed/flow of the river I think. Personally I don't think any D of E group should have been out on the Thames this weekend, especially anyone with health issues. I would be saying something non-complimentary to the organisers about this if it was me.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 12:50 pm 
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Having deprived these children of their own warm things they had sensibly decided to take, what did this irresponsible expedition company then do to check that these girls were warm enough?

If you want to pursue this, I think you would be doing some other children a favour. It sounds unreasonable particularly as it took away the autonomy of children who had made sensible decisions to take warmer bags for the time of year. Also, providing bags at 9pm, whatever the type of bag, is crazy too.

The issue is compounded by the fact that nice children tend to obey adults, particularly in situations where some kind of badge, award or assessment is at stake.

Presumably, you had not declared your daughter's medical condition because you had worked out that, in the absence of sadistic control freaks, she could do a practice expedition without issue. If they were fully appraised of her medical condition, their failure in their duty to care is even worse.

I think you have to consider what you want before you proceed with this company to either ensure that your daughter's future expeditions with them are safer for her or to get some kind of apology or compensation regarding the recent trip. Are you paying? Did you expect them to capsize so much or was it unsuitable weather conditions as suggested by a poster above?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2016 1:07 pm 
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The information on the Canoeing website might be of interest too:

http://www.gocanoeing.org.uk/go/index.c ... -sessions/

Starter sessions run from April to October ...


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